It was a realization Dr. Gigi Osler made fairly early in her term as president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).
“Members, particularly young women of color, would come up and tell me they’d never seen anyone who looked like them in a leadership role.” — Dr. Gigi Osler, CMA past president
“As the first female surgeon and woman of color to hold the presidency, I quickly came to realize you cannot be what you cannot see,” explains Dr. Osler.
Spurred by conversations with members, alongside a growing diversity in the medical profession and the Canadian population, the CMA began the work of drafting its first-ever policy on equity and diversity in medicine.
Launched in March, the new policy seeks to provide physicians and institutions with a set of guiding principles and commitments to improve equity and diversity in medicine. It also provides some specific recommendations, including that all medical organizations, institutions and physician leaders:
- take a leadership role in achieving greater equity and diversity by co-creating policies and processes that apply to them, and the individuals therein, in an accountable and transparent manner;
- encourage the collection and use of data related to equity and diversity through research and funding, and, specifically, review their data practices;
- support equity and diversity in recruitment, hiring, selection, appointment and promotion practices.
Members and stakeholders played a key role in the development of the policy, with more than 100 physicians and medical learners providing direct feedback in surveys and online discussion groups. The formal consultation process closed in November 2019, the policy was re-worked, and a final version was approved in December.
CMA President Dr. Sandy Buchman says at a time when physician wellness is front and centre, a formal policy on equity and diversity in medicine can be a useful tool in improving medical culture, and in turn, patient care.
“Medicine is grounded in respect for all people, and it’s important that our medical culture upholds these values.” — Dr. Sandy Buchman, CMA president